Coherent strategy for energy challenges

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan said on Friday that Pakistan needed to adopt a coherent and comprehensive strategy to address its energy challenges, adding that the implementation of the Exploration and Production Management System (EPMS) would enable low-cost utilization of oil and gas reserves. Chairing a meeting on the oil and gas exploration and production in the country, the Prime Minister said that the EPMS would reduce the burden on the national treasury and make it possible to supply oil and gas to the people at cheaper rates.
The magnitude of the energy challenge being faced by Pakistan can be gauged by recent warnings by relevant officials that the country would witness severe gas shortages during coming winter with apprehensions that even supplies to households might be jeopardized. Similar situation existed a few years back as far as the generation and supply of electricity was concerned as long hours of load-shedding impacted upon the national growth and development but thanks to the single-minded focus of the previous Government and contribution of projects completed under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that the country is now almost surplus in electricity generation. Now the problem is not generation but ability of the system to sustain increased load and there is, therefore, need for upgradation and modernization of the system. Some steps were also initiated by the previous Government to make gas available to all categories of consumers throughout the year but things started deteriorating after we made LNG imports target of propaganda due to domestic politics. In the face of depleting local reserves, gas shortage can only be addressed if we go for import of the LNG as per increased requirements, make a push for early completion of piped gas projects like TAPI and Iran-Pakistan gas pipelines and accelerated efforts to increase local production through intensified exploration. As completion of the TAPI and Iran-Pakistan projects is linked to regional and international situation and Pakistan cannot do much to change the ground situation, we are left with options of imports and exploration. Immediate crisis can only be averted through increased imports of LNG while long-term planning is needed to tap domestic reserves. The EPMS would merely be database of exploration and production activities and therefore, would not contribute anything worthwhile to improve the supply situation until and unless we offer right kind of incentives to investors for exploration and production. This is important in view of geological reports indicating that the prospects for the future seem extremely bright, particularly the Indus delta and Balochistan basin, which may drastically change situation.